Milk is a somewhat controversial beverage. Some nutritionists claim that neither children nor adults need to drink milk, while others strongly believe in the benefits of milk. Milk contains calcium and other nutrients, strengthens the bones and provides many additional health benefits.
Are the Benefits of Milk Worth the Extra Calories?
The benefits of milk are constantly debated. Many people argue that drinking milk exposes people to unnecessary antibiotics and recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, or rBGH. Some nutritionists also argue that drinking milk can substantially increase a person’s daily caloric intake. With such a large portion of the population already overweight, nutritionists often recommend water over calorie-filled drinks.
While some people question the importance of milk, the benefits of milk are plentiful. In fact, some experts consider milk the perfect food. Milk provides the body with a healthy dose of essential nutrients, including: calcium, protein, magnesium, zinc and vitamins A and D. While milk does contain fat and calories, it can be incorporated into a balanced diet, especially since low-fat versions are readily available. People who worry about milk’s antibiotic or hormone content can also opt for antibiotic- and rBGH-free products. Many people take it one step further and purchase raw milk from their local farmers. Raw milk benefits the body by providing the highest quantity of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
The Benefits of Milk on the Bones and Teeth
While there are many benefits of drinking milk, the most commonly advertised benefit is its calcium content. Milk is a fantastic source of calcium. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), adults should consume at least 800 to 1000 milligrams of calcium each day. However, 1,200 milligrams is even better. The problem is that most Americans only get between 500 and 700 milligrams a day, which is significantly lower than the ideal.
Calcium is important for several different reasons. Calcium plays an important role in increasing bone density, stimulating bone recovery and strengthening the teeth. People who do not get enough calcium are at an increased risk of osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become weak and brittle. Since calcium is naturally lost through natural processes, like sweating and urination, it is important that both children and adults get an adequate supply of calcium every single day.
How Milk Benefits Both the Muscles and the Blood
While milk is essential for strong bones, there are several other benefits of drinking milk. Calcium is found in the muscles and plays an important role in muscle contraction. This mineral helps to regulate the heartbeat, keeps the muscles strong and provides energy.
Calcium is also found in the bloodstream, where is it known as blood calcium, and is important for healthy circulation. Just as it causes muscle contractions, calcium also helps the blood vessels expand and contract, which facilitates circulation. When the body suffers an injury, calcium combines with vitamin K and a protein known as fibrinogen to form clots and stop bleeding. If there is not enough calcium in the blood, the body will take calcium from the bones and transport it into the bloodstream. One of the easiest ways to ensure that the body has enough calcium to function properly is to drink several servings of milk each day.
The Special Benefits of Drinking Milk for women
While milk benefits everyone, adult women should be especially careful to consume enough milk. During menopause, estrogen levels drop, which leaves women at a higher risk for osteoporosis. Calcium is also important during pregnancy, as it aids in fetal development and prevents preeclampsia, or a rapid increase in blood pressure.
Milk also helps women by preventing premenstrual syndrome and enhancing the appearance of the hair, skin and nails. While milk is important for people of all ages, older adults, especially women, need to make sure that they are getting enough calcium. Parents also need to make sure that their young children are drinking enough milk. Without calcium, it is very difficult for the body to build strong bones.
The Benefits of Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized Milk
In addition to debating the benefits of drinking milk, many people also question the benefits of raw milk compared to pasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk is a term used to define milk that has gone through the pasteurization process, which sterilizes the liquid and removes bacteria. While pasteurized milk is guaranteed to be clean, there are still many benefits of raw milk.
Like pasteurized milk, raw milk benefits the body by providing a wide range of vitamins, minerals and beneficial enzymes. In fact, many people believe that raw milk benefits the body more than pasteurized milk. This is because the pasteurization process eliminates many of milk’s natural nutrients, which destroys many of the benefits of raw milk. While some vitamins are added after pasteurization, drinking raw milk is the only way to get all of the natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes that milk offers.
Unfortunately, while raw milk benefits the body, it also poses some risks. Unless the milk has been collected and stored very carefully, it might contain bacteria and other contaminants. Due to these dangers, several states have made it illegal to sell raw milk despite the many known raw milk benefits. Still, if you live in a state that allows the sale of raw milk and are lucky enough to know a trustworthy farmer, drinking unpasteurized milk is the best way to get the most from this natural health drink.
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